Two reasons Oblio struck a chord with me was the fact that they hail from Long Beach – a city south of Los Angeles that has my heart for it’s more laidback approach to life, and their DIY style. When you’re a freelance writer – that’s your existence. So when it came time to talk to them, we talked a bit about each, but then really got into the essence of their upcoming release, a concept album about a man living with the fear of being alone. An interesting approach and alas an interview to get sucked into from a group of guys rocking it out in the South Bay.
Kendra: You guys are very proud of your DIY status. So much so, would you say you’re the Pinterest of bands?
Oblio: Well, our DIY status is a love/hate relationship. We do everything ourselves because it’s practical and frugal, plus it’s fun for us to learn and improve on new skills like recording, producing, promoting, and so on. Also, what is a Pinterest?
Kendra: Haha Pinterest is a site that has a trillion and one ideas for crafty people to obsess over…Really though, do you think you’d be able to be as DIY if say you were a band in even the early 2000’s back when the web was still a little fresh?
Oblio: Yes. Way more people went regularly to local shows back then. It also seems like the amount of “DIY” bands like us have been on the biggest rise in music history. It’s actually a bad thing for any bands really working hard at their craft. The market’s flooded. These days, most people we know would sooner spend their time and money on going to bigger shows or festivals, than risk checking out a new band at some dive bar. Honestly, even we are often guilty of this. It’s hard to take those risks, but the payoff can be awesome. There’s not many good local bands in the overall “rock” genre anymore, so I guess you can’t blame people. Before “the internet”, We wouldn’t be drowning in thousands of “just-learned-how-to-play-a-barre-chord-but-have-more-friends-so-they’re-more-popular-online-than-you” bands…we’d probably be fighting for attention amongst just a few hundred committed local bands in one town. The whole current culture shift that screams “everyone is an equally talented special snowflake” is bogging local music down, but sifting through your local scene is still better than giving up entirely. Do we sound cynical yet? Seriously though, we’re friends with so many wonderful local bands that don’t get the notoriety they deserve. It’s always been imperative that the music nerds support and spread any decent artists they discover.
Kendra: Sticking with it, you guys did just about everything for your new record that’s cropping this September, Autophobia. What drove you to make it a concept record, and you can tell us why you went with the concept of isolation and fear for it?
Oblio: Initially it was just a 10 song album we wrote and demo’d in Free’s basement on the East Coast. As we refined the songs something just clicked, and then it became more about portraying this story that evolved out of the lyrics and moods of the songs. Once Alex had joined the band we began replacing and re-tracking some of the original songs (Our new single “Days” being one of the newest additions to the track list.) The protagonist of the album’s story was largely based on our own lives, so I guess you could say that his story became our ultimate “alternate ending” in that regard.
Kendra: Personally I think our dependence on social media has led us to feel scared when not connected. With that, do you ever have days where you rid yourself of technology and go off the grid?
Oblio: Oh yeah. Agreed. Although, I think people are wrong to think that social media = “being connected.” As a whole, Oblio is a little at a loss with this one. We all kind of hate social media. As a band we’ve often fantasized about going off-grid somewhere and doing writing sessions without contact from the outside world.
Kendra: Back to the music, your lead single “Days” just dropped. This sort of sets listeners up with the main character of the record. Right now he’s nameless and all we know is that he fears being alone, but would you be able to draw him – and give us an idea of what you personally see when you see this person?
Oblio: We intentionally left him without a name, so it will (hopefully) be easier for a listener to “replace” the main character with themselves and their own struggles… However, just based off the lyrics in “Days”, I see someone in a dark place in life, with impossible dreams, moral values that he is aware or maybe afraid won’t get him far (pre chorus), a lack of social skills or “confidence”. More of a loner type because he has tried to build friendships and had them cave in, (2nd verse) and he’s starting to doubt himself. He has this struggle to balance between seeking isolation, and fearing isolation because of what might happen if he truly is alone.
Kendra: “Days” is acting like the introduction, but will the record lead us through a complete tale of this person with a climactic part and a resolution?
Oblio: Absolutely. We’ve tried to make the lyrical story cohesive throughout the album, and there’s a lot of musical twists and turns that come with it.
Kendra: After the record drops, will you be heading out and doing shows?
Oblio: We’re in the middle of so much right now, and one of those things is booking a west-coast tour. We’ll be playing a lot around September, and there’s lots more to come. You can find out about any shows we’re playing on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We also announce all that on our website.
Kendra: Out in Long Beach, are there any other DIY artists that you’re loving right now?
Oblio: Check out our friends Vox Amoris and Fashion Party. Also: Droozie Lane and the dudes at Freak Style Bookings put on killer punk shows. We’re actually playing a house show with Vox Amoris, Thy Squid, and other great bands in Long Beach on Saturday, July 30th. It’s gonna be intense. You can find out more on our facebook page!